Hairy Matters: No-poo Trial

Over the four years in Switzerland my hair has become increasingly unhappy. I started suffering from an itchy scalp, particularly in the back/neck area that became a stress release. I’d stress and unconsciously scratch, making my scalp all the more unhappy.

This was the start of the neck/scalp itch in 2008. Hard to believe it’s been four years I’ve been sort of dealing with this.

In the past two years I’ve been pretty good about getting my stress under control and Kay was great about yelling at me when I started scratching. Lots of lotion and the scalp is in a better spot, but overall my whole head was still itchy and dry.

If I would go one day without shampooing, my whole head would be itchy and oily again. Gross, right?

Dandruff shampoos didn’t help and sulfate free shampoos are hard to come by here. Even the natural medicine store only sells sulfate shampoo and their overpriced solutions didn’t do anything for me.

In the summer I decided to cut back and only shampoo once or twice a week. On the off days I would use 100% silica powder spheres from Coastal Scents to “powder” my hair in the front to make it look presentable at work. (They don’t sell dry shampoo in Switzerland.) The oils made my hair really, really itchy for the first few weeks I did this and I really had to try hard not to scratch.

After doing this method for several months, I think my hair got used to producing less oil, but it was still dry and fairly itchy so I wanted to kick the shampoo and go no-poo.

For around two weeks now I’ve been trying out the no-poo method. A few times a week I shower and use 1 tablespoon of baking soda (BS) diluted with shower water and one 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar (ACV) diluted with shower water.

I’ve been testing out different proportions and variations to get a mix that works well for me. So far I’ve tried:

  • Using one mix of BS and ACV together
  • Mixing the BS into a paste and putting that on my head in the bad parts first and then rinsing with a diluted BS mixture.
  • Using a BS mixture sans ACV
  • Using a diluted mix of BS, rinse, followed by a mix of diluted ACV

On the other days, I usually shower and rinse with normal water, but I’m still trying to skip some days because I love the convenience of not washing my hair every day.

In general, my head is not very itchy. It still seems dry, but it’s not anywhere as itchy as it used to be, especially if I skip a day washing, but I’m running into some problems:

On the non-hair wash days, my hair looks pretty oily and I can’t wear it down. Also, even after months of shampooing it seldom
I have flakes. I don’t think it’s dandruff, but I think it is dry scalp still.
There’s also a grey waxy/lint buildup is in my combs/brushes immediately after I use them.

I think I’m still getting used to the no-poo thing, but after two weeks it now seems like my hair is getting dirtier and dirtier than when I first started it. After washing it doesn’t seem as clean as the first few times I did it, so much that I can’t even wear my hair down right after I washed it.

The flakes/dandruff thing annoys the crap out of me. I might make an appointment with a dermatologist at some point, but that would be a big PIA in Zürich and I’m sure they would just give me a dandruff shampoo to start off with.

Lastly, the waxy lint stuff coming off in my combs and brushes is really disturbing me. It got me searching for other people dealing with dandruff and if it had to do something with my water.

I remembered that we have pretty hard water in Zürich. In Winterthur we used to have to de-chalk our coffee machine and hot pot fairly regularly. The water is softer in Zürich, but still pretty hard I think. Maybe that’s part of my problem?

I’ve got some solutions I could try:

  • Use distilled water to wash hair – Buying water in Zürich costs $$$, but if no other options work I may try this.
  • Get a water filter – This is maybe more feasible, but I’d have to investigate the possibilities. I think Kay already looked into this a few years ago…
  • Shower with colder water. This is supposed to help the dry flakes. But ugh, my hot showers!! 🙁
  • Boil water and mix BS with that before applying. This should give the “slippery” feeling that I haven’t been experiencing with my hard water.
  • Add some salt to soften the water
  • Condition with lime or lemon juice instead of ACV

I think for now I’m going to try mixing my BS with the boiling water + a little salt and rinsing with some lemon juice. I really don’t want to have to resort to buying bottled water to rinse my hair when we have tap. That seems so counterintuitive to me. Then I might as well go back to using normal shampoo. Urgh!

Do you have any no-poo successes or failures to share with me?